Gustaf – ‘Audio Drag For Ego Slobs’ review: art-punk that leans on humour and tradition

On an impulsive debut album, Gustaf prove there’s a reason why they’re one of the most exciting names to have emerged from NYC’s post-punk scene in recent years

“You say that I’m much too old / to still be lo-fi…” drawls Lydia Gammill on ‘Mine’, the opener of Gustaf’s debut album ‘Audio Drag For Ego Slobs’. The self-deprecating track makes for a perfect embodiment of just why the band have stumbled upon such an addictive formula; it’s a vibrant blast of danceable NYC post-punk that refuses to take things too seriously.

Throwing yourself into something headfirst can often be the best way to do things; and now one of The Big Apple’s most exciting prospects, the five-piece know this sentiment well. They got here by doing things the old fashioned way – jumping in a van, playing some shows (that fell through for their previous projects) – and the spontaneous approach began landing them sold-out nights by word of mouth and pure unbridled excitement.

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That sense of moment courses through this debut album. It’s the sound of the Brooklyn bunch rolling with the punches and not giving anything second thought. Even in the opening track, Gammill stumbles over her words as they morph into a brilliant nonsensical, piss-taking mess: “I don’t wanna ruh ruh, I don’t come to repeat, get ready cause I won’t ruh, ruh blearghhhh.”

The jittery and frantic ‘Book’ keeps the raucous party in full flow. About seeking validation from the wrong places and the wrong people, Gammill said of the track: “Everyone gets their moment up on the pedestal and everyone gets their turn falling off of it. It’s about accepting whatever level you’re on whether it’s up or down.” Gammill’s captivating role brings to mind some of the finest Stateside post-punks of recent years; from the dead-pan delivery of Bodega through the menacing, vital roar of Downtown Boys and Sheer Mag.

Their own city’s rich musical heritage is in plain sight all over the album though. Whether it’s the rumbling, raw bass that echo Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth plucking out at the end of ‘Best Behaviour’ or the rampant Television-esque guitar notes tucked underneath the groove-heavy vocals of ‘Dream’. The sound is timeless and thrilling at every turn, avoiding pastiche.

On paper, there’s not masses to set Gustaf apart from many others who have found great success in their stomping ground, but they’ve mastered the recipe so well, it’d be daft to not get swept up in the excitement. Another slice of NYC art-punk brilliance that channels their surroundings with an authentic growl.

Details

gustaf

  • Release date: September 30
  • Record label: Royal Mountain Records
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